These are general directions for those arriving by bus from El Salvador or Honduras. For more detailed directions for the particular route via Santa Ana in El Salvador, and for navigating Guatemala City, see below: FROM SANTA ANA in EL SALVADOR TO GUATEMALA CITY.
We’re grateful for any ideas and suggestions for improvements to these directions. The good ones will be incorporated and acknowledged.
Thanks to the uncomfortable experiences of Jorge and Raquel, two intrepid volunteers from Spain, we are finally able to complete the directions for finding the Shelter with information on how to get here from El Salvador (and, with obvious modifications, from Honduras) travelling by bus.
First, get to the Guatemalan border. Jorge and Raquel – whose command of Spanish is naturally beyond reproach – set out from Santa Ana in El Salvador: two bus rides and assistance from very polite and helpful local people. You need a border town in Guatemala that has a bus service to Guatemala City (they probably all do).
This should be a direct bus, straight to El Terminal (or if possible Trebol) in Guatemala City (approx 4 hours).
The difficult part is finding the right onward bus. You need any bus going west – that is, to Chimaltenango or beyond. Some routes leave from an area known as Trebol, others from bus stands at the southern edge of Zone One (close to the Teatro Nacional). Both routes converge at Trebol, on the main artery called Calzada Roosevelt.
If you can afford it, the simplest thing is to get a taxi to a busy bus stop anywhere on Calzada Roosevelt. Landmarks with busy bus-stops include Tikal Futura (which is on the opposite side of the road but highly visible and of course well-known), and the shopping mall called Cemaco, which is the last main bus-stop before the Highway.
If you can’t afford a taxi, but are confident, with decent Spanish and/or a non-robbable demeanour, get directions (several times and make an average), and walk until you know you’re on Calzada Roosevelt. Trebol is situated at the point where several roads converge to become the Roosevelt (Trebol means ‘clover’ in English).
Your destination is Kilómetro Cuarenta (Km 40), half-way between San Lucas Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango Chimaltenango. The journey to Km 40 takes about 30 minutes and costs 5 quetzales per person (as of February 2017).
The last leg of the bus journey and the walk up from Km 40 to the Shelter are described on the ‘Visit Us’ page of the website, where you’ll also find a map showing the Km 40 area with the route to the Shelter (http://animalaware.org/home/visit-us/).
It’s been a long and tiring day but you’ve made it. Congratulations! Everyone is very pleased to see you!
We should mention that the main gate of the Shelter gets locked at around 4pm, so try to arrive before that. Jorge and Raquel didn’t, and became the very first people to be admitted through the rusty old gate from the woods behind the House after a long walk through fields. They’d had a tough day!
FROM SANTA ANA in EL SALVADOR TO GUATEMALA CITY
The bus terminal in Santa Ana is on 10th Avenida South and 17th Calle West.
Take bus #210 to Juachapan (approx. $1US and 1 hour).
In Juachapan you need to get another bus to the border (La Frontera). These are mini-buses, rather than the normal-size buses. Take your pick from the mini buses waiting around the junction of 8th Calle and Avenida 2 de Abril. It’s about 30 minutes to the border, which is the last stop.
You need an exit ticket from El Salvador, available at no charge from the buildings you’ll see when you get off the mini-bus. Your passport will not be stamped.
The advice is that you’ll get a better rate buying your Guatemalan quetzales while you’re still in El Salvador. Also that the older men changing money on the El Salvador side are usually the more honest.
Cross the bridge and get an entry stamp in your passport (no charge) in the Guatemalan Customs building.
There’s a bus to Guatemala City every 30 minutes or so, they’re waiting outside the Customs building. If you can, make sure to take a bus that will continue on to Trebol after it gets to El Terminal in Guatemala City. The journey costs 30 quetzales and can take up to 4 hours – an hour of waiting (for more passengers?) in a town along the way; half an hour in a gas station while the crew tinkers with the engine – a terrific opportunity to practise patience. If you didn’t get a bus that continues to Trebol and you alight in El Terminal, you’ll need to make your way to Trebol (taxi if you can afford it – 50 quetzales is maybe a fare to aim for), where the Chimaltenango bus leaves from the corner of 1st Avenida on the Calzada Roosevelt, near the Banco de Antigua.
NOTE: If you’re going to be staying in the volunteer accomodation at the Shelter, it would be a good idea to do some food shopping before you get the bus to Km 40. There are shops and a market in Sumpango – within walking distance of the Shelter – but if you’re arriving late (don’t forget that the main gate at the Shelter is locked at 4pm) after a long and tiring day on buses, you’ll probably want to put your feet up with a nice cup of tea when you get to the Shelter, and save the shopping trip for another day.
All directions and advice kindly provided by Jorge and Raquel.